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Lowering Expectations for the New Year, Again

In 2003, I wrote a column for the Cleveland Plain Dealer about New Years Resolutions. As in previous years, I aspired to read all of Proust, give up sugar, meditate daily, be nicer to my family, get up earlier, keep my desk clean, and try new recipes. I hoped to get books back to the library on time, defragment my hard drive, and vacuum my refrigerator coils.

Alas, I had resolved these things before, and upon reflection, I concluded that though I’m not a scientist, “this repetition constitutes anecdotal evidence that I do not actually keep my resolutions.”

Instead, I wrote about making insignificant resolutions. Maybe if I chose trivial things…I’d actually do them. I’m taking a look back to see if I’ve kept any of those seven-year-old resolutions. First, here they are:

  • Notice where I’ve parked the car at the mall.
  • Return cd’s to their cases after I’ve played them
  • Carry my empty coffee cup from the car into the house.
  • Close kitchen drawers while I’m cooking.
  • Pin together matching socks before laundering.
  • Return credit card to appropriate slot in my wallet after making a purchase.
  • Avoid looking at photos of Halle Berry in a bikini.
  • Throw away magazines promptly, say, within six months.
  • Keep one roll of tape in house at all times.
  • Ditto a roll of toilet paper.

As it happens, I’ve done pretty well at keeping the tape and toilet paper on hand, pinning the socks, keeping track of my credit card, and avoiding the Halle Berry pics. (That James Bond movie promoted by Halle’s orange bikini was over and done with).

Otherwise, not so much.

But now I’m even wiser than in 2003, being seven years older. “Nothing creates more unhappiness than failed expectations,” says Deepak Chopra. And so I’m resolving not to expect to do any better this year. That way, if I fail yet again by spilling sugar in my kitchen drawer and accumulating six coffee cups in my car and wandering like a cloud in the Target parking lot, I won’t create more unhappiness for myself, because I had no expectations.

 And if I succeed in not expecting to do any better, I’ve won!

How about you? Expectations? Resolutions? Palpitations?

2 Comments

  1. robin kosleb wrote:

    First of all, you actually pin socks together? I’m not sure if I’m impressed or not.

    I think for too long I have subscribed to the non expectation expectation. I am taking quite seriously my keeping my car clean resolution. By broadcasting it on Facebook, I feel that my fear of shame will increase the likelihood of success. One problem I do have is the definiton of “clean”. Mine is not what some others would define it to be and I don’t want to be judged by those with higher standards.

    I’ll have to see how this goes for me, giving myself an expectation. This may just be a one time deal.

    Tuesday, January 4, 2011 at 2:34 pm | Permalink
  2. Kathy wrote:

    Inside or outside of the car? Or both?
    I actually do pin socks together. (And I still lose them!)

    Tuesday, January 4, 2011 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

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